September 2011 Zoki Phantom (Hufflepuff)

Disclaimer: All content mentioned or used as an example is copyrighted to Pottermore and J. K. Rowling.
Note: Possible spoilers for those who haven’t received their Welcome Letter yet. Send the answers to the 7 Quill Days Questions to Zoki Phantom and earn 5 beans!

It has been an excruciating wait that for some people is still ongoing. First we had to wait for the end of July to find out how we can get an early access, and then we had a week to get the magic quill and with that acquire a verification e-mail to confirm that we want to enter the site early. Then came a congratulations e-mail for being one of the “lucky few” who will enter early, rambling on and on how everything will be on a “first come first serve” basis. And then came yet another e-mail, telling us that our Welcome Letter is on its way and simply letting us know Pottermore hasn’t forgotten us. But that darn 4th e-mail, the Welcome Letter, is apparently being delivered by relatives of Errol, as it has gotten lost for most of the users.

Seeing how they started sending out welcome letters since August 15th, and two weeks later, on August 28th there are only about 100,000 when by a month’s time there need to be 1 million, complains seem to be justified.

It’s obvious that they couldn’t let in everyone at once as they don’t know if the site could survive that, and it would be easier for them to improve the site (and fix bugs) if the feedback arrives in smaller bunches. But what makes thing worse, is that apparently the “first come first serve” basis somehow got lost and now they’re randomly choosing people to gain access. Although it is amusing how people who didn’t get to do the early registration are complaining about the waiting when those who registered get a heart attack every time they receive a new e-mail, hoping it is their Welcome Letter.

In case you have missed the early registration, here is an overview of the questions (each referring to a different HP book, starting from the first to the last) that fans had to answer:
Day 1 – How many breeds of owls are featured on the Eeylops Owl Emporium sign? Multiply the answer by 49.
Day 2 – What is the number of the chapter in which Professor McGonagall cancels the Quidditch match between Gryffindor and Ravenclaw? Multiply the answer by 42.
Day 3 – In the Gryffindor versus Slytherin Quidditch match, in Harry’s third year, how many points is Gryffindor leading by before Harry catches the Golden Snitch? Multiply the answer by 35.
Day 4 – How many students take part in the Triwizard Tournament during Harry’s fourth year? Multiply the answer by 28.
Day 5 – What is the house number of the Headquarters for the Order of the Phoenix in Grimmauld Place? Multiply the answer by 21.
Day 6 – How many chapters are there in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince? Multiply the answer by 14.
Day 7 – How many Deathly Hallows are there? Multiply the answer by 7.

After you’ve got the right answer it takes you to another site where you need to find and/or catch the magical quill, which then lets you proceed to the registration. Whether you have missed this promotion of Pottermore or not, I have something for you – send the answers to the 7 Days to Zoki Phantom (through a HOL Message or PM) and you will earn 5 beans!

A few HOLers have actually received the Welcome Letter already, including me. And it’s really unfortunate to inform you that most of us were not pleased by the Beta Version, as it was a rather short experience lacking interactive elements and it gets pretty much boring once you finish exploring the first book. Rumors have it that the books will be delayed a lot, as for example the second book is planned to be ready some time after New Year. This leaves the Sorting and Wand choosing as the main attraction, and the rest isn’t anything too exciting.

Some of the questions about the Wand choosing were:
What’s your height? – You choose between “short, average, or tall.”
What’s your eye color? – You choose between a couple of colors.
Was the day you were born on… – You choose between “odd or even.”
What quality do you pride yourself mostly? You choose between several qualities.
What is your biggest fear? – You have a few options like fire, darkness, etc.
Choose an artifact from a chest. – There are several items, including a mirror, a scroll, a knife, etc.

The questions seem to be the same for everyone, unlike the ones for the Sorting Hat, which are given out randomly. Rumor has it that there are 148 questions in total and they are distributed randomly. Some of them ask from you to choose a characteristic you’d like people to remember you by, others give you to choose between a set of things like a creature you’d like to study or a power you’d like to posses, while some of them are very simple and straightforward like choosing between right or left or heads or tails. Supposedly, if the Hat is having troubles deciding in which house you need to be, it will also ask you to choose between houses, something like it did for Harry for whom it was torn between Gryffindor and Slytherin.

What is definitely great us the fact that you can’t just jump to the sorting, do it, and then leave. You actually need to follow the storyline of the site, or in other words, you need to explore the corresponding chapters in order to do the quizzes (Chapter 5 for the Wand, Chapter 7 for the Sorting Hat). There are some bugs/glitches in the Potions and Duelling area, but hopefully they will get fixed, and maybe the amount of house points rewarded for the accomplishments will be reviewed and changed.

And yes, that means that those who enroll in the site are able to earn points through various interactions and they earn points for their house. At a certain point the house cup will be awarded to the house with the most points and then all stats will be restarted. But unfortunately it seems beside brewing potions and duelling other students there isn’t much to do around the site, and even when you explore the books there are just a few objects in each chapters that can be collected, there aren’t even actual mini-games. They should have at least created some where they easily fit with the plot (Flying to catch the Remembral; Playing Wizarding Chess; Flying to catch the key; and many other possible interactive ideas).

But the site lets you give them feedback about your experience and there is an option to comment almost everywhere, so you can share your ideas and thoughts there and hope that they actually use/implement them.

Furthermore, they have now added a feature where for each element (character, place, object, etc.) you can upload your own drawings and sketches, and other users get to “like” their favorite ones. The submission which currently has the most likes automatically shows up as the “official” thumbnail for that element.

All in all, it’s a fun and entertaining site, with some new information added to make the Harry Potter experience more enjoyable, but it will probably progress/advance slowly and there isn’t a lot of interaction. In all honesty, it doesn’t deserve all the sleepless nights people have been going through because of it.